The Garden to the rear of 12 North Street, home of St Andrews Heritage Museum, opened to the public with the opening of the museum in 1981. The original garden for the house was a small area of around 3m x 4m, but over the decades the operators of the museum, St Andrews Preservation Trust, have been fortunate to purchase areas of land to expand the garden. It now measures approximately 34m x 20m and is divided into 4 distinct areas; the D’Arcy Thompson Garden, the sensory garden, the rose garden and the main garden which features a rockery, borders of shrubs and plants, a lawn, and trees.

The D’Arcy Thompson Garden was created in 1996 in memory of the eminent Professor of mathematical biology of that name who was known to stride the streets of St Andrews with a live parrot, called Polly, on his shoulder.

There is a small rose garden and herb garden in this area; the roses, of various types including Lady Charlotte, Claire Austin and Wild Eve, are in memory of his wife, Maureen, and the herbs are in memory of Sir D’Arcy. The herb garden contains mint, fennel, thyme, and rosemary, to name but a few.

Hidden in the far corner of the D’Arcy Thompson Garden is St Andrews’ only remaining two-seater privy, which provides much amusement for our staff and visitors!

Towards the south end of the D’Archy Thompson Garden is a pavement mosaic from the Maypole Dairy which once stood on Market Street, and wrought iron gates from a former garage which once stood on South Street.

The Sensory Garden was designed and constructed by horticultural students from Elmwood College in 2017 as part of their community projects scheme. The garden contains raised beds of plants to stimulate the senses of sight, hearing, touch, and smell, and there is a lavendar border that is much enjoyed by the bees. In recent years, garden volunteers have installed wildflowers in the southern border of the sensory garden, replacing a large hedge that once dominated this area.

The removal of the hedge has also allowed for the rose garden that adjoins the sensory garden to thrive. A variety of Scottish roses, sponsored by Trust Members and volunteers, were installed in this area in 2013 and include Sir Walter Scott, Robbie Burns and Spinosissima.

Within the main garden is a lawn area which includes four trees - a crab apple, a lilac and two rowans. In 1992 the Beechgrove Garden Hit Squad came in and planted up the rockery area and herbaceous border of the main garden that sits behind the wrought iron gate. The soil is a lovely rich loam and a real joy to dig and work with. Part of this border was excavated for an archaelogical dog in 2021, so garden volunteers had a blank canvas to work from.

The volunteers recruited the assistance of Peter Watson of St Andrews Botanic Gardens who selected and then placed a selection of perennials for the area. This year perennials appeared that were never in the herbaceous border before and must have been in deep in the soil when it was replaced. There was bindweed in one small part of the area and now it is throughout the bed. Another perennial weed is ground elder, and garlic mustard pops up all over the place. The main garden also features a fine pair of Victorian shop front pillars that originally formed part of the T T Fordyce shop frontage on South Street, and another mosaic salvaged from a local shop, the Butter Cup Dairy which once stood on Market Street.

Towards the far end of the main garden is a fine stone seat designed and built by members of the Central branch of the Scottish Dry Stone Wall association in 2017. A portion of gravestone, unearthed during excavation work in the garden in 2017, also features, with the inscription:

“On Christ my Shepherd I'll depend from him I will not stray I will expect a blessed end If he do lead my way”

It is believed that this is the lower portion of a child’s gravestone from the mid to late 18th century. The stone is inscribed with the 13th verse of a 17 verse catechism for mothers as religious instruction for children, written by the Rev John Willison, 1680 – 1750, late Minister of the Gospel Dundee. It was originally printed in 1716.

The southern border with which the seat and gravestone sit is a wide expanse and is planted out with numerous perennials which flower at different times throughout the year so that there is always something to view. There are many varieties of Heucheras, Alpines, Sedums and Ferns in addition to Phlox, Berberis and some Pieris.

In Spring, garden volunteers sieve the compost in our compost bins and spread it across the soil so that all that goodness is being returned to the soil and nurturing the plants. Sitting in the garden and listening to the birds that have made this special corner of St Andrew their home is a sheer joy.